After only 5 months of operation, The Academy is granted accreditation
Last October, after only five months of operation, we had the improbable fantasy that we could become accredited with Clubhouse International by the end of our first year. The odds were against us, but we have always strived to push the boundaries, and our mission has always been about creating opportunity for our members: opportunity for recovery, for friendship and community, for employment and financial independence. Accreditation is a significant endorsement from the governing body that oversees the Clubhouse model, and it serves to enhance these opportunities for Academy members.
Clubhouse itself has an equally improbable origin. On the steps of the New York City Public Library in the mid-1940s, several former patients of the Rockland State Hospital convened to form a support group for those affected by mental illness. Together they found fellowship and camaraderie in shared stories which echoed the challenges of overcoming isolation, marginalization, and stigma. They called their group We Are Not Alone (WANA), and in this humble and informal assembly, a movement was born. When they grew too many for the library steps, they bought a building and became Fountain House, the first program of its kind to offer rehabilitative services, and the precursor to the Clubhouse model.
As the movement grew, clubhouses opened throughout the world and oversight became necessary to ensure that the founding principles of strength-based restorative activity, and the philosophical tenets that would eventually become known as the International Clubhouse Standards were being upheld. An accreditation process was implemented under Clubhouse International, and a Faculty board comprised of staff and members from clubhouses all over the world was created. It was our good fortune that our own accreditation visit was conducted by faculty straight from the mothership: Fountain House.
Our visiting faculty, Michael Hamlin and Andrew Schonebaum, spent three days with us, observing, interviewing, and respectfully challenging us on our methods and practices. The Standards were their guideline to evaluate how closely we adhere to the Clubhouse model. They visited job sites where members are employed, met with our Board of Directors, and even reviewed our budget. It was rigorous, but ultimately an exciting opportunity to hold ourselves accountable.
On their last day with us, they delivered a verbal report that, while unofficial, gave us cause for optimism. Considering how new our program is, Andrew was pleasantly surprised by our commitment to hold ourselves to high standards, and our ability to be reflective about the work still ahead of us.
This week, we received the news that we have been waiting for: The Academy at Glengary was granted the highest distinction; a three-year accreditation. Our certificate of accreditation may just be a piece of paper hanging on our wall, but it is symbolic of our cohesive community unified by our common goals, not just within our Academy, but within the Clubhouse community; a cogent reminder that we are not alone.